Download the following article in various formats, here:

Bad and Good Showing Off for Martial-Arts Improvement

Remember to replace my “End the Fight” link with your affiliate link (create your link at the bottom of this page) to the resource section. You may need to right-click the above link and select Save Link As to download the zip file to your computer.


Bad and Good Showing Off for Martial-Arts Improvement


by Keith Pascal

Are you annoyed by showoffs? Or are you one?

If you are a beginning martial artist, then when and how you show off could seriously affect your improvement. The speed with with you build your skills, as well as when you peak, can be helped or hindered by how you choose to parade your talents.

Showing off in (or “to”) the martial arts world is performing an action for the benefit of those watching. You do what you do, to impress someone — an onlooker, a challenger, a formal  audience, or a supportive friend.

Martial-arts teachers seem to divide into two camps on the subject of ego and showing off: There are those who feel that it’s imperative to squelch those students who flaunt their talents. In their minds, these exhibitions hinder a students ability to achieve mastery.

To them, reaching the highest level in the martial arts implies a complete loss of ego, a trait necessary to respond and react with one’s best.

On the other hand, in the other camp, we have teachers who believe that martial arts is one big exhibition. They constantly compete in tournaments with onlookers. They want their students to fight and perform katas with attitude, boasting, brandishing, and parading, all with the goal of intimidating the competition.

To these teachers, showing off is, well, natural and a desirable trait.

Do personally side with showoffs or the fairly modest? Is this the same attitude that your school promotes?

Rather than align completely with one side or the other, let’s examine some bad uses and good uses of showing off. If done right, you can improve at a faster rate, with a little encouragement from onlookers.


Clothing and Tattoos Don’t Make The Martial Artist

Even before new students learns any skills, they get to show off their new affiliation to the martial arts by wearing “the uniform.”  It could be a white gi, a black gi, a colored uniform, or even the school’s t-shirt with approved sweat pants.

Beginners love to parade their outfits. (And some advanced practitioners relish being able to sport a black belt for all to see.)

While you should dress as required to participate in the class, there is no need to show off your gi by wearing it after class, outside the school, to the restaurant or pizza parlor … or worse, to your next errand. This kind of showing off doesn’t help you learn martial arts.

In fact, for some passersby, it could be seen as a challenge. You don’t go looking for such encounters, right? Part of being a martial artist of the highest calibre is to avoid trouble, whenever possible. (Also, it keeps you safer.)


Note: What’s cool to the person wearing the uniform, could label him or her as “geeky,” if paraded out of a martial-arts context. Take it from someone who insisted on taking and wearing his gi to summer camp as a young teen. I thought I was soooo cool. Oops.


Tattoos are an interesting way to show off martial-arts affiliations. Such adornments may project the opposite look than the effect desired….

Some people want a tattoo, so they can look rough — it rarely works. It takes more than a tat to create an image.

And those who want to keep their “secret ninja skills” secret, might want to rethink parading their affiliation blazoned on their arm (or neck, leg, lower back …).

One last point about showing off a tattoo: One has to wonder how long the ink exhibitor has been into his or her fighting art. You see, one of the biggest benefits to studying martial arts is what it does to strengthen one’s mind. How logical and well-thought-out is the decision to add a school’s tattoo to one’s body, FOR LIFE, after taking lessons for only a year and a half?

Is such a rash decision the action of a master?

You have to giggle when watching someone with mean-looking, martially-related tattoos performing martial arts in a mediocre manner. The look doesn’t match the skill level. It is, if not hilarious, then at least very amusing.


Suggested Clothing and Tattoo Attitude and Actions

Wear your gi or uniform in class; don’t parade it afterwards. If you want to show allegiance to your school, wear a t-shirt or sweatshirt with the logo, when out and about. Don’t limit yourself to school-logo shirts, unless you’re the school owner. And even then, only wearing your school shirt can get a little tacky.

Allow people to become aware of your martial-arts passion by a method other than parading the clothing, especially when you’re a beginner and don’t yet have a solid chocolate bar inside the candy wrapper.

And as for tattoos … if body art is your “thing,” then wait for your next design, until you’re sure of your devotion to what your chosen, permanent, body emblem represents.


Note: Before I was 21, I went from Judo, to Tae Kwon Do, and then from TKD to Shotokan. With each switch of allegiance, came a temporary disdain for the previous style. Imagine if I had taken needle to my arm while at each school. Ugh.


Also, think about whether or not you wish to give your potential enemy such blatant clues about your chosen path.

Regarding clothing and tattoos — low-key as a novice is much better. You can make other decisions, when you are more advanced.


Showboat Showoffs Switch Standpoints

What’s your reaction to someone showboating in class? Do you want to work out with the ego, or do you roll your eyes in disgust?

Often, showing off has a reverse effect. The braggart wants to impress, but ends up creating a bad impression.

If you’re a beginner who wants to impress, adopting a more subtle way of expression might be in order, just like with clothing and tattoos.

In a nutshell, all that’s necessary to impress is to stop trying to impress. Instead of a flagrant display of your techniques to direct attention toward you, allow the audience to discover you on their own. If you have something to show, they will appreciate you all the more.


So, How Do You Show Off For Martial-Arts Improvement?

Believe it or not, there are ways to use showing off to your advantage; you can perform for an audience, to better your skills.

If you’re a beginner, and want to head down the path to mastery, where people can not only tolerate, but appreciate you, then start by shifting the focus of “the performance.”

Instead of you passively trying to affect people watching you do martial arts, switch it around, so you are being affected by them.

If your teacher invites people from another school to watch, and this causes you to try to make your techniques a little crisper, then this becomes a good type of showing off.

The people on the sidelines caused you to change your behavior for the better.

You didn’t try to steal the show, and have everyone focus on only what you were doing. You were part of the team; you wanted everyone to look good, for your teacher’s benefit.

It doesn’t have to be a guest group of the teacher. If you invite your family to watch a class, you still want the entire class to look worthy.

You don’t want to project a pompous attitude. You want to show allegiance to the group, while still shining a little. Because you have guests, you try just a little harder than normal, right?

As I said, this is the good kind of showing off.


Summed Up With a Class Joke

The bad kind of showing off is when you do an action to impress others, which results in feeding your ego. The good kind of showing off is when having others watch, causes you to adjust your behavior to perform at your best.

In the former, you want to be singled out, all attention on you. In the latter, you focus on being part of the group, to make everyone look good.

This boils down to: having an audience can be beneficial, if it causes you to try harder … but not in a blatant, showboaty way.

This reminds me of a small, class, practical joke that turned into a good lesson:

The small trick works, if we are starting a repetitive exercise like stomach crunches or punching in the air, and someone walks into the training area.

Let’s say we are counting punches out loud, when someone enters. The joke is that we immediately adjust (increase) the number, before the guest or late student gets into hearing range:

The class counts out loud with me … “16 … 17 … 18 … 1,119 …  1,120 … 1,121 … 1,122 …”

The naive bystander thinks that we have actually just completely over one thousand, one-hundred punches, and are continuing. The late-to-class student chuckles, immediately realizing the standard joke that we are playing.

Anyway, this small tease started me thinking: it’s human nature for us to want others to believe that we are working hard. So much so, that we inflate the number for a quick, practical joke.

So, I decided to execute my boring repetitions with someone else in the room. I perform arm-extended, medicine-ball rolls, while my wife is nearby, reading on the couch.

When I practice, I sometimes eye jab 300+ times, in a row.


Because my daughter sits doing her homework just a few feet from where I am standing. As I quietly count, I know that she would tire long before 100 jabs; she realizes this, too.

As the number of eye jabs increases, I can see out of the corner of my eye that she is a little impressed. I continue jabbing.

There’s no need to fake by counting high number for humor’s sake. These are real repetitions with passive witnesses doing their own thing nearby.

Having someone in earshot pushes me to a higher level. It’s an interesting form of motivation.

I am showing off.


If you’re a beginner in the martial arts, then you want to be able to defend yourself competently as soon as possible. Not only does End the Fight with One Hit teach you how to end a real fight in under two seconds, but it will help you develop your personal philosophy about when you should fight, and how seriously you should respond.





Feel free to replace the link above with your own affiliate link, or embed a link for the ebook in the title How to End the Fight with One Hit.

Get your free, (Clickbank) affiliate hoplink for this eproduct here: